Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Big Moves

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I have about seven weeks until my graduation, shortly after which I will have to vacate the student housing apartment that I've occupied for the last three years. I won't make my permanent move to the city until September, and I've spent the last few days researching both storage options and movers. I must admit, I found the average prices for both things in NYC to be slightly shocking. It gets to the point where one person's collection of Ikea and Walmart price-point furniture is barely worth the cost of either, and certainly not worth the total cost of both combined. I wouldn't generally advocate purchasing anything, much less furniture, with the intention of discarding it during the next move, but I'm also not exaggerating the slightly jaw-dropping cost of storage in particular. (Some storage places come with one free move, but not a second, so that's another cost to account for.) 

It is actually the first time in my life I'm truly dealing with the potential need for movers. I went to college across the country from where I grew up, and there was no question that I couldn't take anything back with me except what would fit in my checked luggage. I used to enjoy accumulating bargain books, and of course, those couldn't all travel with me. I was in the same situation with my big moves to and from Hong Kong when I was working before graduate school, and then again with my eventual move to start school. This process certainly makes me want to swear off buying decorative knick knacks or any furniture nicer than those from the lower-end Ikea lines, at least until I'm fairly certain that I'm settling down in one place for good. 

The whole thing leads me to reflect on how much in the way of physical objects a person actually needs. It also emphasizes how, sometimes, accumulating excess stuff has real costs, both in terms of stress and the actual costs or trouble of moving and storing things. One easily gets to the point where it is easier or even necessary to let go rather than to keep things. I also think back to the moving-out period at the end of every school year in college. There would always be an immense pile of discarded items, some of them fairly nice or expensive, piled at the door of every residence hall. I believe the school donated the items, but can't be sure of how they handled or sorted it all.

I'm actually quite lucky in that it will be fairly painless for me to downsize (I will get a mover, but not rent storage space). I will be moving in with K in September, which renders a lot of my furniture redundant, so I'm opting to sell or discard most items. All I'll be left with is a dresser, a nightstand, and my clothes, which will fit in his apartment while I'm away from NYC. I greatly appreciate his willingness to provide a space for my things, of course, because it will be cramped, though not absurdly so. (I will take a decent quantity of my clothes home in checked luggage and bring it back in the fall.) 

How have you approached big moves in the past? I imagine that the rather laissez-faire attitude towards discarding furniture is a bit of a big-city affliction, but I have done enough research to know why students and young professionals might be forced into that position. 

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